When Captain Gianluigi Aponte purchased his first, small ship in Belgium in 1970, just as globalisation was taking off which would soon be fed by the containerisation revolution, little could he have imagined that the small company that he had just founded in Brussels would one day come to employ more than 60,000 people located in over 150 countries around the world. That company was MSC Group, parent of MSC Cruises!
Whilst the global conglomerate has substantial interests in passenger ferries, container ships and terminal investments, it is MSC Cruises that is currently receiving all the column inches and headlines across the world because of its meteoric rise within the cruising industry and because it is now building some of the most impressive and imaginative cruise hardware afloat. None more so than the MSC Meraviglia whose christening I had the honour to be invited to last weekend in Le Havre, France. Weighing in at an impressive 167,600 gross tonnes, the Meraviglia is not a small ship and yet it is not big for ‘bigness’ sake. Every square inch has been though out and considered for function, comfort and aesthetic in a manner that only the Italians can accomplish so that one is left with the sensation of a series of intimate and discrete ‘spaces’ that flow naturally from one into the other. There are, of course, some stand-out features such as the curved electronic ceiling that is on a scale that you will not find anywhere else in the world outside Las Vegas. Everything is contemporary in design but with a few notable exceptions such as The Brass Anchor pub which is festooned with familiar bric-a-brac that wouldn’t look out of place in many an Irish or English bar.
Of course, on a ship this large and luxurious, pubs are just the start of it. If you’ve never cruised before, you probably can’t imagine how amazing ships like MSC Meraviglia are! They are like floating cities and probably contain more attractions, distractions, restaurants, bars, lounges, kid’s clubs, pools, water features and shopping options than you could expect to find in a moderately-sized Irish town. MSC Meraviglia is guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding of travellers and there are probably no better value-for-money travel options on the market at present, when you consider the pricing options.
Add to that long list, immersive flight and FI simulators; a gym that wouldn’t look out of place in an Olympic village or a spa that could hold its own with any similar facility on land in this country and you can begin to appreciate why the folks at MSC are so excited by their latest addition to the fleet.
When you are christening such an iconic vessel, you need to choose a godmother of similar stature, elegance and timeless beauty and they don’t come more iconic than Sophia Loren! Such star quality is evident throughout Meraviglia and you are bound to swoon at its curvaceous lines once you step aboard!